Robert Bard

Say Anything, Say Everything

In Mimesis on December 8, 2010 at 7:03 pm

The bottom lock didn’t work, just the top deadbolt. Reginald pushed on the door and swung it open to let them both inside. The light over the kitchen sink was on, but the rest of the lights in the house had been shut off. He turned and looked at Elizabeth briefly before they stepped inside. His parents’ house was dim and he guided her over to where the couch was in the living room. They had been here before.  He said, “My parents must be sleeping. Wanna sit?”

They sat tentatively on either end of the couch, and his mind was racing, his heart pounding. Having Social Anxiety Disorder is not great when you’re trying to be smooth and suave with girls. He could feel his fingers shaking, as they always did because of the medication, but even more so now because of how nervous he was. So dreadfully nervous. What if she rejects him? He had known her for eighteen years. They had met in the first grade. There had always been a mutual connection between them, but even now he felt that grinding in his insides as he tried to talk to her. What if, after being friends with him for three-quarters of his life, she rejects his advance to move this beyond being close friends, and tells him she just wants to remain the way they are? Or worse, what if she thinks it is now too awkward and doesn’t want to see him ever again? Each phrase was like climbing Mount Everest. He struggled, he labored, and finally as he reached the top he manages to squeak out, “How about you sit next to me?”

She nodded, and moved closer to him on the couch. He was shaking. He was trying desperately hard not to let her notice, but he must have looked like he had palsy. Where was the fifties man of steel who would come in and say in a voice of velvet that he loved her and would do anything for her? Instead he just mentioned, “You want to see if there’s anything good on television?” He motioned towards the television and went to grab the remote, anything to distract himself from having to make small talk. The dreaded bane of his existence, small talk. There was a tension in the air and he could feel it, as palpable as moving through water. Something felt different.

She placed her hand on his to stay it from the remote. “I’d rather talk. I hope you don’t mind.”

He glanced into her eyes, but couldn’t hold it. Her gaze was penetrating. She was one of the strongest people he had ever known. All that life had given her she had borne like a saint. He idolized her. He could still remember that day back in sixth grade that she had told him that she would go out with him if he asked her to, but still there was too much doubt in his mind. He was a coward. She was so strong, and he was so weak. He could see that. Her strength made his weakness even more apparent in his eyes. His mind kept racing. He felt like he was sitting in the electric chair, his body buzzing with thousands of volts. He felt uncomfortable with her body this close to his even though it was what he wanted more than anything in the world. He suddenly felt the strong desire to get up. Talking’s fine. I’ll get the lights so we can see each other.”

She put her hand on his thigh as he went to get up. Surely she must feel his shaking. He wondered if she had meant to grab that close to his crotch. “Actually it’s kind of nice without all the lights on. Just sit.”

They paused, with him half standing, and her hand resting on his upper thing. The air was still, and the only sound was their breath. She said, finally, “Isn’t it great how silent the country gets?”

He sat back down and tried to relax. It frustrated him that he couldn’t read people. Even now with her sitting beside him he couldn’t tell if that was a look of boredom on her face, or if she was just content with being out here. He was glad that she was making the small talk though. He said, “Yeah, it really is nice. It lets you think.” He smiled at her. “You know, I’m so glad that we got back in touch.”

She looked up at him and smiled back, and even he could tell from her eyes that it was genuine. They had spent some years apart, it was true, but whenever they got back together it felt as if they had never been apart. It was if they had always been there all along. She said, “Well I’m sure glad you called me. These years have been rough, but it’s been a bit easier knowing I have friends like you out there. I love hearing from you.”

He couldn’t help but smile. He knew she meant it, and the connection that he had with her was one of the things he cherished most in this world, and it certainly brought him the greatest happiness. She was right, though, about how the years had fared for them. Just this past February she had tried to kill herself because the nerve pain she was experiencing was so bad that it felt like a hot iron was being pressed on her arm. The pain was constant, and after many trips to the doctor and no real help being given, she had decided to kill herself. He himself sympathized with her, though he could not compare to her suffering. His pain was only emotional, though in its own way extreme. They both had Bipolar disorder, though she was type II and he was type I. The difference between the two is that in type II you are more prone to be depressed, and in type I you are more prone to mania. This similar experience of life had given them much in common, and much to talk about. He understood why she would want to kill herself because he knew the disappointment he had felt when he had survived a snowboarding accident. He knew that living with pain, real or emotional, year after year, with the prognosis that you will have to for the rest of your life, can be very depressing. His reasoning for wanting to die was far less severe than hers. She was in constant pain, and sometimes the suffering was too much for her. For him it was more like he was bored with life or that he was tired after a long day. Recently he had become depressed because he had lost his faith in god. What was the point to living if there literally was no point to life? How could he keep on going when all science had told him was that life was just a spontaneous growth on a rock that happened to be the right distance from a star, and that we had grown like only so much mold? However it was their close encounter with death that proved, in fact, the catalyst needed for him to make up his mind to ask for more than friendship. He had come to realize that the most important thing in his life was her. His life revolved around her. She could give him a reason to live, and he prayed that he could give her a shoulder to lean on. His love for her had grown from a childhood crush to a more mature and deeper love as the years went on, and he knew now that he had to know if she felt the same way about him. Emboldened by her intimacy he said her name, “Elizabeth?” He put his hand on her thigh, but low, towards the knee. He tried his best to look her in the eyes, but he found himself squirming like a guilty convict. “I’ve been meaning to tell you something.”

She looked inquisitive now, and it only heightened his anxiety. He couldn’t think of how to approach the subject. His thoughts were all jumbled, like a puzzle still in the box. He knew what the picture was, but he just couldn’t seem to put it together. Finally, he said, “It’s really hard for me to say what I’m trying to say. I know we’ve always been open and honest with each other, but in one particular way I haven’t. I just can never tell a girl I love her!” He paused. That last part had just seemed to slip out. It was starting to come out in the open. Finally he blurted out, “I just wish I could hold you, now, as more than a close friend. In all the years we’ve been friends I’ve only ever given you a polite hug. I give my mother the same hug, and nobody is telling me I’m too friendly with my mother.” He wanted to kiss her, she looked so pretty in the dim light coming from the kitchen giving a soft glow to her skin and glinting off her eyes, her lips looking so soft, glistening, but cowardice checked him and he glanced away.

She turned his head back towards hers and looked him in the eyes, leaving her fingers trailing on his chin. “So hold me.” He wrapped his arms around her and she leaned into him, nuzzling up against his chest. He rested his head on top of hers and tried not to breathe too heavily, for fear of seeming weird. Her hair smelled faintly of lavender, with a hint of chamomile, and the scent relaxed him. He could feel the warmth of their bodies together, and he recognized this as the happiest he had ever been in his life.

He whispered softly, “I want to do everything I can for you. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but I want to help you. I’m graduating college soon, and hopefully I’ll get a good job if the economy holds out a bit. I know it looks like shit right now but I want to support you, to provide for you, and to be able to give you the things you need like doctors and good healthcare. Just ask me for anything you want, and you know I’ll do my best to do it for you.”

Without thinking for a moment she hugged him tighter and said, “All I want is you.”

He held her and for once things seemed to be coming together for him. Could it be that after all this time, after almost two decades  of waiting, that she returned his feelings? It seemed too good to be true. He caressed her cheek, his fingers trembling slightly, and spoke, “I love you. I always have, and I always will.”

He leaned in and kissed her softly, first on her forehead, then her cheek, and finally her mouth, and he could feel the tension melt between their lips.

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